By: Rachel Sichender
“I really need to do something with my life,” I heard from behind me. When I looked up from piling brush I saw one of my crew members looking out over our work site, his expression grave and concentrated. As I continued to pile the massive amount of buckthorn we cut that day I took time to ponder his words. With the end of our term in sight much of the talk in my crew this month has been of what comes after the Corps. The reality is that for most of its members, the Corps is only a starting point; a spring board for careers in natural resources or simply a way to prolong entering the job market while gaining valuable experience.
In many ways this has not changed from its original mission. The CCC was not created as an end in itself, rather it was a way for the county to put young people to work and pull itself out of a deep financial depression. Even though my grandfather worked in forestry he did not become a forester. However, he did gain important life skills that I am sure he took with him the rest of his life. Looking through his photo album this past week I came across a picture he took of another member of his company. The photo is labeled “Earl looks into the future”, and it struck me that the Corps does give people a vision of the future. It might not be an end in itself but it allows its members to see the end, or perhaps see a vision of what they want the end to look like. For me the Corps gave me time to think. Just like Earl looking into the future I’ve used my last two years as a space to ponder what I want to do and the kind of person I want to be. The Corps has helped me define my values and myself, and gotten me in great physical shape along the way to tackle whatever comes at me.
So when I looked back at my crew member last month and joked with him about not wanting to pile buckthorn for the rest of his life I was only half kidding. Because I know like so many other people who come through this program that he is headed for much bigger things; just like me, and Earl, and my grandfather the Corps will play a part in directing that future.